From France, a popular comedy with a little something extra. Gifted farceur Fabrice Luchini is a Parisian intellectual haunted by two demons—his foulmouthed, violent-tempered fiancee (Sandrine Kiberlain, effectively cast against type) and a hot young writer (Laurent Lucas) whose path keeps crossing his at crucial, humiliating points. Pascal Bonitzer—onetime Cahiers du Cinema critic and scripting partner of Raul Ruiz, Jacques Rivette, and Andre Techine—wrote and directed this, his second feature, in what seems to be a mood of playful self-loathing. One classic sequence finds Luchini traveling to a distant suburb for a literary dinner thrown by a gruff old novelist (Michel Piccoli), only to find that he was never really invited and that the elderly writer has memorized every word of a cruel pan Luchini has written of his latest book. This comic nightmare has something in common with Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, in the way it inventively and persuasively links disaster to disaster. But Bonitzer doesn’t share Scorsese’s prudery—here sex is not a trap but an ever elusive pleasure. With Bernadette Lafont.